Guy Davis - You Don't Know My Mind

You Don't Know My Mind

Guy Davis

RHRCD 113

Red House Records Inc.
PO Box 4044
St. Paul, MN 55104

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Michael Gasser
(migas@compuserve.com)

One thing upfront - with a few exceptions, I was never much of a blues fan. Now you may justly ask why I picked this CD for reviewing, then. That was because I heard a Guy Davis track on a Red House sampler, and no, it didn't render me sleepless, but it certainly stirred my curiosity, and I decided to check out the man and his music.

Guy Davis, together with people like Corey Harris and Alvin Youngblood Hart, is part of the new crowd of country bluesmen. They are once again taking up the sounds made famous by Leadbelly, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. Davis himself also claims to have been influenced by Skip James, Elizabeth Cotton, and Taj Mahal, among others. For many years acoustic blues wasn't exactly fashionable anymore, at least not until this new batch of hungry young men arrived on the scene. And although Guy Davis goes back to the roots of the blues, he also takes a big leap forward, adjusting the music for today's times.

The CD's first track, Best I Can, nearly made me check whether I had put the right CD into the player because it sounded like I was hearing Tom Waits doing the blues. But no, the gruff and gritty, but ultimately very attractive vocals are all Guy Davis' own. His voice has also been compared to Howlin' Wolf's and Son House's.

In the sixties it took three people to make the powerhouse of Koerner, Ray & Glover (the re-releases are also to be found on Red House). Now along comes Guy Davis, and that man is a powerhouse all by himself. He made me realize anew what the words stomping and drive stand for in the blues. It's music that you feel from deep within; music that grips you tightly somewhere down there, where some people claim that the soul lies. It's music that makes you realize where sweat comes from. Guy Davis relies a great deal on his terrific guitar (and his harmonica). Other instruments are used rather sparingly, mainly to complete the picture, and to keep the pace going.

If the first song on the CD is a promise of what's to come, then the remaining twelve cuts keep that promise. It's awfully difficult to single out any particular tracks because they all seem to be made out of the same good, stern stuff - stuff that might almost turn me into a blues fan after all....

Track List:

  • Best I Can
  • Po' Boy
  • If You Love Somebody
  • Grandma's Tea House
  • You Don't Know My Mind (melody and first verse by Virginia Liston, Samuel Gray and Clarence Williams; all other verses and adaption by Guy Davis.)
  • Georgia Flood
  • You Remember My Name
  • Home Cooked Meal
  • Dorothy Is Harlem Bound (Melody by Billy Taylor or Freddy Johnson; arranged for guitar, added to and adapted by Guy Davis.)
  • Pretty Little Women (Melody and first verse attributed to Leadbelly; additional verses and adaption by Guy Davis)
  • If I Could Fly Like An Eagle
  • Marlboro Blues
  • Everything Is Gonna Be Alright

All songs by Guy Davis, except where noted.

Edited by Roberta B. Schwartz
(rschwartz@oeb.harvard.edu)

Copyright 1999, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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